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Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed at Sundress Publications

 Donna Vorreyer


Review of Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling
Buffalo: Blazevox Books, 2015. 54 pp. $12, paper.


Failure is a perception that is essentially personal. One person's failure can be another's achievement, and failure implies blame, that there is something or someone faulty that did not result in a desired outcome. Lyric is a word that implies emotionally-charged language. Put the two together, and Failure Lyric is the result, a fractured and blistering portrayal of a broken relationship. 

The book tells the non-linear "story" of a failed relationship, one that seems doomed and distant from its inception. The speaker is never at ease, even at the very beginning. In the poem [First Failures], the speaker relates this story: 

"When we met, by a silver lake at the end of summer, I knew you were looking over my
shoulder, trying to find the woman who would fall in love with you."
[...]
"You waited and waited, but the woman never arrived. I just sat there next to the
refreshments, my best dress already out of fashion."

All the poem titles in the book are bracketed, which fittingly mimics the presentation of the speaker as an observer in this narrative, an afterthought to the siginificant other more than a presence. The book opens with an erasure called [Preface], which starts with the line "The story can't begin," telling the reader from the start that this story will not unravel in a way that we expect. 







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Kristina Marie Darling interviewed at Word Mothers

 

Meet Kristina Marie Darling

Interview by Nicole Melanson ~

 

Interview with poet and editor Kristina Marie Darling by Nicole Melanson

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose, which include VowPetrarchan, and Scorched Altar:  Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014. Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the University of Washington’s Helen R. Whiteley Center, as well as grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Kittredge Fund, the Ora Lerman Trust, and the Rockefeller Foundation Archive Center. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University at Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University. She serves as Assistant Editor for Handsome, Associate Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and Founding Editor of Noctuary Press. Her experimental memoir, Failure Lyric, was just released by BlazeVOX Books.

Kristina Marie Darling’s website

 

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I started writing and submitting work for publication when I was in high school. I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started. I bought a copy of Writers’ Market and sent my poems just about everywhere. You probably guessed that I received eighty or so rejections before I got my first acceptance. I would put the rejection slips in a little drawer, and then after awhile, the drawer wouldn’t close. Then, when my first publication finally arrived, it was stapled crooked and most of the poems were just awful. I didn’t get discouraged, though, since I knew that one publication was something I could build on, and that small things can turn into bigger things. Kristy Bowen at Dancing Girl Press was the first to take a chance on one of my chapbook manuscripts, and for that I’m still so grateful. Having a couple of publications and a chapbook helped me build more of track record, and within two years, I had some prose appear in The Gettysburg Review.

 

WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?

My experimental memoir, Failure Lyric, was just released by BlazeVOX Books, and I couldn’t be more excited. The collection pairs erasures with flash essays that depict a romance that was doomed from the start. The project began with the erasures, in which I took a black marker to a four-year correspondence with a male writer, who out of respect for his work, will remain unnamed. The erasures of our personal correspondence became the preface and the epilogue. The middle of the book is comprised of flash essays, which map my heartbreak through all of its various geographic locations: Burlington, St. Louis, Iowa, and the now infamous Dallas/Fort Worth airport. I see this book as an exploration of grief and the complicated orbits that it set me on.

Read the whole interview here 

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Kristina Marie Darling has Two New Reviews at Poet Hound!

 

Kristina Marie Darling’s Double Feature: The Arctic Circle, Failure Lyric

I admit that lately I have been very slow to read and review books these past two to three years and I can assure you I am working on ways to get back to doing these reviews more often. It will take a bit longer to achieve some of the goals I have set for myself in order to accommodate more reading, writing, and creating. I thank all of my loyal readers for sticking by. In the meantime, I will post as often as I can:

Today I review one of my favorite writers for a Double Feature. Kristina Marie Darling’s work continues to inspire me and sets my imagination spinning. 

First is The Arctic Circle, published by BlazeVox books in 2015, is a haunting collection where the ghost of the first wife lingers over the current couple’s lives. The current wife begins slipping into the first wife’s character, alarmingly the husband voices approval. The environment surrounding them grows cold, frosted over in ice. Below I am happy to share a few pieces:

VOW

The name I was given at birth was no longer my name. When I arrived at the reception hall, I was mistaken for another bride. Laced into the wrong dress, wearing the wrong shoes.

My husband would later confuse me with his last wife. He thought I was supposed to bring him cigarettes, and for a moment that seemed right. He mumbled as I handed him a purple lighter, and I left behind the only life I’d ever known.
But we were so good together. I never argued with him, afraid for years he’d remember his first wife was dead.

This poem describes our main character slipping into an expected persona and losing her individuality to make her partner happy. I fear the number of women who do this daily. I wish they would fight to keep themselves intact. Here, the bride succumbs to what is “expected” of her.
Read the whole review here
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Flutes and Tomatoes by Wade Stevenson Reviewed at Kirkus

Flutes and Tomatoes by Wade Stevenson

FLUTES AND TOMATOES

A Memoir with Poems

This book, a combination of engaging memoir and unusual poetry, proves that quirkiness doesn’t preclude depth. The twin pole-stars of the work are simple objects—flutes and tomatoes—but its still life also includes a knife, a bottle of wine, and the interior of a small atelier in Paris. Composed in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death, this collection reveals the compulsive attention of extreme grief. In it, the author reminisces about a trip he took with his love, wandering the Loire Valley farms one glorious summer. But the only evidence of passion that remains now is a dozen tomatoes stolen from those farms, and the flute that the author’s love played so well. Faced with a sense of inertia, the author believed that grappling on to something solid might help: “The only thing that would make a difference would be if I could find some objective proof of love….if I chose an object of my affection and tried to understand it as no one had understood it before.” The subject was right there on the table, red and ripening: “William Blake said he could see eternity in a grain of sand. Why not in the seed of a tomato?” In Stevenson’s provocative verse, the fruits themselves connote a fleshy voluptuousness: “Tenderly, with blind / Fingers you touch the precious skin / As it swells and dilates / Like some enormous empty heart.” But beyond the author’s rich metaphors, the objective fact of the tomatoes drives the book’s credibility: “I have written so much about the tomatoes / They at last have become the REAL REAL.” In the end, the author penetrates his subject with a knifelike concentration, which grants him acceptance of his own plight; ready for a new start, he writes of going up the steps of his basement apartment into the busy streets of a new life. Readers should take a chance on this work, and not let the unusual focus dissuade them. 

A paean to the tomato and a song of natural devotion.

Read the whole review here

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at Poets and Poems

 

POETS AND POEMS: SUSAN LEWIS

TSP Susan Lewis

Prose poetry isn’t as easy as it might look. I didn’t realize what tight control it can require until reading three recently published works by poet Susan Lewis, two of which are prose poetry and one of which is the more familiar verse style.

Lewis is an accomplished poet, having published numerous collections and chapbooks, including Animal HusbandryCommodity FetishismThe Following Message and At Times Your Linesamong others. Within the space of roughly a year, she published three books—two collections and a chapbook—and these are three I’ve recently read: How to Be AnotherState of the Union and This Visit. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and poetry publications.

The poetry in the three collections has a broad range of subjects—commercialism, food, environmental issues, language, relationships, to mention only a few—but each of the volumes reflects a similar voice, a voice utilizing an observant eye and an air of authority. Consider the title poem from How to Be Another:

Read the whole Review here 

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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr